Samuel Reveals Mature Sound with “ONE”
Resembling Justin Bieber’s musical transition to a more mature sound, Samuel has returned with “ONE,” a darker, more daring comeback than we’ve seen in the solo artist’s fresh career.
“ONE” Good Music Video
“ONE” is the Produce 101 alumnus’s highly anticipated comeback, and although the song is meant to symbolize a mature step forward in Samuel’s career, the song has an almost throwback vibe; the large EDM sound is reminiscent of the trend that several second generation K-Pop groups tackled. The song has a stronger direction than the relatively tame “SIXTEEN” featuring Changmo and “Candy,” but “ONE” doesn’t leave a lasting initial impression—especially with the influx of K-Pop groups also adopting the electronic sound. While the song boasts of featuring the recently debuted solo artist Jung Ilhoon of BTOB, the talented rapper’s two lines are empty in substance and add little to the track. It takes a couple of listens for the title track to catch on.
The music video, however, makes up for the song, at least visually. Samuel’s fresh, clean haircut is prominently displayed as the video lacks a plot, primarily focusing on the artist’s dance skills. Dressed in well-fitting suits, he showcases his crisp dance moves alongside dancers sporting all-white fits and masks, in front of technicolor lightning on the walls. The video contains existential, futuristic elements to it that resemble something VIXX would do—with Samuel searching through faceless figures holding obscure poses, and inanimate objects floating. Compared to previous releases, “ONE” has the upper hand in visual effects, and the copious choreography showcases his impressive dance skills and growth as a dancer.
What hasn’t changed with Samuel’s discography is that the B-sides always outshine the title track. While the last comeback, his first album “Eye Candy,” explored a more funky, summer electronic sound, the vibe of the second mini-album predominantly tackles a more Western, urban R&B sound comparable to that of Chris Brown and the aforementioned Justin Bieber. The remainder of the album makes up for the sonic complexity that “ONE” lacks.
Following “ONE” is “SOS,” a track that could be heard in the club. It channels the west coast vibes more popular in America as Samuel lets his girl know he’s readily available when she needs him. It’s a party song with a strong hip-hop influence one wouldn’t expect from a K-Pop solo artist, but is a pleasant surprise. “Princess” most resembles the vibe of “Eye Candy,” exploring an urban summer sound. Since Samuel is young and his voice is still developing, it’s a recurring theme in his tracks for it to be accompanied by big beats in the backgrounds. It has a lighter approach than the previous two tracks; it would’ve been an easy alternative as the title track for this comeback. “I Can’t Sleep” can be best described as electronic R&B over a trap beat. Thus far, it’s the most melodically complex and the most substantial. It wouldn’t be surprising to hear someone like jeebanoff or Jooyoung tackling a track like this.
Already a fan favorite, “Clap Your Hands” has the biggest sound on the entire mini-album. The track takes what “ONE” wanted to do to the next level; the drop following the chorus is larger than that in “ONE,” and it capitalizes on the darker, more fierce dubstep effects like the ones used by BASTARZ and MONSTA X. The final track, “잠시만” or “Wait,” is the satisfying conclusion to the mini-album. It’s short and sweet—landing at almost exactly two minutes long—and conveys a cheery, hopeful vibe. The drop is electronic bliss, weaving electronic dub sounds with the more organic sounds of snaps, horns, and strings. The track can only be described as dreamy, with the piano melody and distorted melodies in the background.
The quality of Samuel’s album instrumentals never fails to impress. That being said, “ONE” isn’t greatly developed in lyrical substance in comparison to the artist’s previous releases. In his favor, this can be excused for his relative status as a rookie and his marketability as a heartthrob. Brave Entertainment should start looking to further craft his artistry by providing more complex lyrical content. Nevertheless, the mini-album is a step forward for Samuel, demonstrating his versatility and maturity as a solo artist.